Leveling Up a Tier with Technology Integration

Photo by  Alessia Cocconi

In my last post, I gave an infographic that I designed for explaining the three tiers of technology integration:

  • Tier 1:  The focus is on teacher productivity and the teacher using technology tools to get his or her job done.

  • Tier 2:  The focus is on the teacher using the technology to present information to large groups of students, and for students to get their work done using the technology.

  • Tier 3: This is the qualification of a student-centered 21st Century learner environment.  Students are actively engaged in using technology in individual and collaborative learning activities.

But what does this all mean in a real applied setting?  In this post I'll break down what it looks like to level up on a popular and one of my most favorite technology applications - Google Slides.

Tier 1 - Teacher Productivity

Think teacher-centered, and think how technology can help a teacher get his or her work done.  I always found that I had a much easier time in the classroom if I allowed my students to access my notes before I presented the information in class.  

Aligned with Tier 1 technology integration, I would make these notes in a Slides presentation, then make them available on line for my students to take a look at before I taught the information.  Or the downloadable notes would be useful for any student who was absent the day that I presented the information.

Their absence would not mean that they had to completely miss out on what was done in class.  This system was not the most fully technology integrated, but it really helped me know that I was making information available to them in a fashion that was more compact (and possibly impactful) than a traditional textbook.

Tier 2 - Teacher Presentation and Student Productivity

Now let's level up that Google Slides presentation to have me presenting and to guide the student activities in class.  I am a huge proponent of engagement through mixed-media presentations. I like to use photos and images to provoke student inquiry, and film to present information or invite critical thinking.  

After presenting information, I sometimes put in a slide of questions that students have to answer on paper or verbally. This gets students working and productive, but as the teacher, I am still presenting with Google Slides.  This is the next level up beyond allowing students to access my notes, but it's not quite yet 21st Century student-centered learning.

Tier 3 - 21st Century Learning Environment

A 21st Century Learning Environment puts the student in control of their own learning and has students creating the presentations.  Tier 1 and Tier 2 definitely have their place in a learning cycle. But I have found that Tier 3 is where the learning and student engagement is solidified.  

Taking the same example of Google Slides, instead of the teacher putting information on the slides for the students to learn about, the teacher puts guiding questions at the top of each slides, then gives editing privileges to all of the students.  

Students then either pool their knowledge by each student answering one question with text, posting links, and/or embedding images or films clips. In this case, the teacher assigns one slide per student. Or, each student can answer a minimum of a few questions, several students start a discussion board on a single slide to answer the teacher-posed question in the best way that they see fit.  

In this way, the students are more engaged, student voice and choice is activated, and the teacher is put in the role as the class facilitator and is in less direct control.

So What Now?

So what does any of this mean?  Remember that every step of the technology integrated application is helpful IF it (rather seamlessly) facilitates the learning process. And depending on the situation, one tier may be more applicable than another.  I suggest that educators try something out to see how it goes.

Now that the 3 tiers of technology are explained, try pushing the technology integration a step further. But remember, the technology works IF it furthers your educational objective.  Get students interest and engaged, and get that group of learners achieving higher than they would if the technology were left out of the picture.

ed techBryn Hafemeister2, c